A study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion shows that a morbidly obese worker can rack up more than $4,000 annually on health care and associated costs compared to his normal-weight counterpart. The costs skyrocket when an obese employee has diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. These comorbidities increase the likelihood of a worker filing for short-term disability and workers compensation claims. The good news for employers is this: you can help minimize unhealthy weight gain in the workplace. A well-structured corporate wellness program can do just that. Here are expert tips that can help you.
Addressing Gaps in CWWPs
Many comprehensive workplace wellness programs (CWWPs) may possess two existing gaps, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). First, the consistency by which recognition programs rate worksite wellness programs is sorely lacking. And second, CWWP recognition programs fall short of rating heart health in an evidence-based way. The AHA suggests that its Life’s Simple 7 scheme be used for scoring the heart health levels of workers. Life’s Simple 7 is formulated to prevent cardiovascular disease, and it is composed of the following seven concrete steps.
- Stop smoking.
- Stay active.
- Reduce weight.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Reduce blood pressure.
- Manage bad cholesterol.
- Lower blood sugar levels.
The AHA also provides My Life Check, a digital tool for calculating a person’s cardiovascular health level based on the steps in Life’s Simple 7. Your CWWP recognition system may want to incorporate this useful online tool.
What to Include in Your Worksite Wellness Program
One dollar spent on workplace wellness programs can save $2.73 in absenteeism and $3.27 in health care, according to the results of a study published in a 2017 issue of the journal, Management Science. The most comprehensive of such programs include fitness classes, biometric health screenings, nutrition programs, and seminars. The seminars tackle subjects like stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
In the study involving voluntary employee sign-up to a corporate wellness program, participants are given a basic health exam. This health exam includes a blood test, blood pressure measurement, and a health survey. A few weeks after the health exam, a registered nurse hands out packets containing an employee’s health status and recommendations for improvement. Each packet is personalized and physicians made the recommendations addressing each of the unique health status of the employees who signed up for the program. Researchers show that participation in this program resulted in an average five-percent jump in employee productivity. This is roughly equivalent to an extra productive work day per month. And you know that increased worker productivity has a direct and positive impact to a company’s bottom line.
The mechanisms driving the productivity-boosting health improvements are not exactly identified in the study. Researchers theorize that the increased productivity is caused by two things. First, there is gratitude and therefore higher job satisfaction among employees who found out about their previously undiagnosed illness. And second, the improved mental and physical wellness contributes to enhanced capability in doing their respective jobs. It is a no-brainer that the workers who demonstrated the topmost productivity boost are those who made changes in their diet and exercised.
All in all, employers may want to consider investing in health promotion programs specifically emphasizing ways to control blood pressure and blood sugar levels, as well as encouraging healthy eating, stress management, and physical activity. The ROI can be had by way of the extra boost in worker productivity and reduced health care costs.